We love the raw, real, and sex appeal of the Solstice brand. Can you tell us what inspired the label and where you draw inspiration from?
Solstice started out of my own selfish need for pretty lingerie. I have always been obsessed with underpinnings. I am one of those “jeans and a tee” type of girls but I put much more effort into my underwear than my outerwear. I wanted something that was going to be comfortable yet sexy under that tee shirt though. I wanted to create something that was sexy but still classy. I started making the classic design just for myself. My husband, Joseph Maddon, is a fashion photographer and he posted a picture of me wearing one of the barrettes on his Instagram and there was a huge amount of interest just from his following.
I started by making them as gifts for friends and family while I worked on the patterns and perfecting the sizing, adjustability, etc. Once I felt comfortable with the fit I started my website. Initially I just had the basics, solid colors, and couple specialty pieces. I have slowly been adding new cuts and styles but I like to stick with what I am good at and not get too elaborate. I like that my brand is recognizable because of the cut of the pieces. Each launch I change up the style by adding new colors, trims, etc. but I don't deviate too far from my core style.
What is your go to "feel sexy" ritual?
I find it impossible to feel sexy when I am feeling stressed. It is so hard to get out of my own head sometimes. I have to take time to chill out and connect first with myself before I can allow that with my partner. One of the best things for me is a hot bath. I like to load my bath up with bubbles and bath bombs, turn off the lights, add some music (mostly so I cant hear my kids demanding things like coming into the bath with me) and zone out for a few minutes. I think feeling sexy has to start from the inside before we can do things like dress up in foxy lingerie. Nothing is more attractive than a woman that is cool and confident.
What has been one of the greatest struggles with running an e-commerce business?
I am not good with computers and technology. I started my shop with a basic template and less than ten products. Since then, I have hired on a graphic designer to help me with the site and an assistant who helps me with uploading products and keeping the site organized. That sort of stuff bums me out. I just want to sew.
How do you balance work-life-family balance?
Balancing work and my family has honestly been the most difficult thing for me. I have two children and a husband that need me. By nature I am a workaholic. I derive probably too much of my own self-worth from work ethic. I started Solstice so that I could be there for my babies. I was tired of missing parent teacher conferences and recitals because I had a very demanding job (I was a finance manager prior). I find myself getting overwhelmed when I know that I have deadlines and expectations that I need to meet both from my family and my business. When it comes down to it, I have to actively remind myself that I am doing this for my babies and they need me. Sometimes it means an order has to wait another day and I just have to accept that and trust that my product is worth the wait.
If you could give a reality check to our readers about running a creative business, what advice would you give them before getting started?
Starting a business is kind of like having a baby, you can never really be prepared for what it entails until you just do it. I am a very cautious person. I had a hard time letting go of the security of a full time job, 401K, etc. When I started Solstice I was still working full time. That only lasted about two months before I realized that I had to chose one or the other. I had to just accept that I couldn't control the result but that I absolutely had to give it a shot. I felt like I was wasting a talent that was given to me and I had feelings of guilt for that. Talent is a terrible thing to waste, not matter what that talent is. I tried to convince myself that my talent was with numbers and spreadsheets because it created a nice life for my family, but it did not fill me up. I didn't get those warm fuzzy “ I am fulfilling my life purpose” feelings. When you are doing what you are intended to do, the universe will figure out how to make it work. I had to learn to trust and have confidence that it would work out.
What has been the greatest tool or asset in your business? Instagram? Social Media?
Social media has been huge. Pictures create a lifestyle and culture for your brand. There are plenty of companies that I follow on social media and purchase from just because I want to feel like I am part of what they are creating. It is so much more than just a product. We all have an natural need to feel connected. Social media allows us to do that on a level that no other platform can.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine since starting Solstice has changed pretty dramatically. I used to spend my mornings getting my makeup and outfit perfect so I could look nice and professional for my job. Now I am lucky if I make it out of my pajamas from the prior night. I am a morning person so one thing I made sure of when I quit my job was that I was going to give my own business the same courtesy of having a start time. I set my alarm for 5:30-6 each morning and start sewing my 7am. One thing I absolutely make time for is a walk outside. I just do a few laps around my neighborhood while I drink my morning coffee and usually plan out my social media posts for the day. Its my own little 30 minute jump start for my brain to get moving.
If you could change one decision you've made in your business thus far, what would it be?
So far I have only been open about 11 months. I feel like I am still creating the platform of my business that I can build on in the years to come. My focus has been to make that foundation strong. I want to create a strong sense of what this business is all about, what we support, etc. I still don't know when the busy versus slow times really are and how to prepare for that. I definitely was not sufficiently prepared for the holidays this year. I didn’t know that so many people bought lingerie as gifts for others. I need to get better at understanding consumer trends and all that good stuff.
Do you have a home-based business? If so, what are the pros and cons?
I do work out of my home. It is the best decision for convenience, the worst for work-life balance. It’s really hard to be off the clock when the clock is staring you down from the couch. I am working on giving myself more of a work schedule but I do still have too many days where I sew from 7am to 10pm and then cant see straight by bed time. Not to mention the fact that if I don't leave my house, that means I never have to get dressed, right? More recently I have been forcing myself to treat it more like a real job where I get dressed and have work hours. It’s a delicate line and one I am hoping to get better at. The beginning phases of starting a business are just plain time consuming, there is no way around that really. You have to pour your whole heart and soul into it. I think a separate workspace will be one of my goals in the new year but when starting up, its pretty convenient for the long work hours.
If there were 3 things that would make the biggest impact on your business and life, what would they be?
Three things that I am determined to attain are learning to trust others enough to let them help me, making time for real life, and getting more efficient. This business is my baby. I am kind of like a helicopter parent right now. I have a hard time delegating tasks and trusting that it will get done to my standards. I have one seamstress now that has been helping me for about six months now and I am finally to the point where I don't feel the need to micromanage every stitch she makes. It’s time to hire more people. The past year I have only been focused on my business 100%. I am ready to start traveling more and taking time to enjoy the life that I have worked so hard to create. I know it will only help me get more inspired and that will translate to even better things for our brand.